Texas Tech vs Nebraska - Homecoming

Trip Start Sep 17, 2006
Trip End Dec 23, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Saturday, October 11, 2008

This weekend is what’s known as ‘homecoming’ for Texas Tech University. This is a weekend during the year that’s advertised as the official homecoming weekend for the college. Homecoming is where past students return to celebrate their time studying, and everyone kind of has a celebration. Typically this will include sports and cultural events, and often a parade through the streets of the city or town.

Today’s Texas Tech game is branded as the homecoming game, which increases its importance and thus the demand for tickets. Luckily Whitney’s friend Stephen’s mum Diane has two season tickets, she didn’t have anyone to go to the game with and so I was offered her spare ticket. This saved me $66 and the hassle of trying to purchase a ticket. Whitney and Ashton got in free to the student stand.

College football is a big deal here. In terms of spectators it’s on par with football in Europe, played in large stadiums with crowds of 50,000 – 100,000 people. A good portion of fans will be students not paying, more than half though will be fans from the city or town plus parents of students.

Outside the Jones AT&T stadium it was like walking to any other large sporting event. I was wearing my new red Texas Tech t-shirt, so I fitted in with the hundreds of others making their way to the game. Nebraska were the opposition today, they weren’t rated as a top team, but Texas Tech apparently have a reputation for slipping up just when they’re looking good.

Pre-game entertainment was provided by a black horse being ridden from one end of the field to the other. I think it had something to do with their mascot. University marching bands are a big thing in the USA. They accompany the teams to games and provide a musical background to proceedings.

American football is actually quite a simple sport. Teams take it in turns to have possession of the ball. When a team has possession it has 4 attempts to legally move ten yards down the field. Movement is legal when the quarterback throws the ball to another player who successfully catches it. If after four goes the team hasn’t moved ten yards forward then the opposition gets possession. If they succeed in getting the ten yards then it all starts again and they get four more goes to get ten yards. If they reach the end of the field, which is the touchdown area then they get six points. After this they get the opportunity to kick through the posts for an extra point. The opposition can of course use their strength to try and stop the attacking team from moving forward. A game is split into four quarters, the teams change ends after each quarter.

In today’s game Texas Tech got ahead before Nebraska fought back. It was very close throughout the four quarters and tied at the end of the fourth. This lead to ‘overtime’ where each team got a chance to attack from about the twenty yard line. Texas Tech succeeded in getting a touchdown to lead 37-31, but then the kicker failed to get the extra point. This meant Nebraska had the chance to score a touchdown and convert to win the game. You could feel the nerves inside the stadium, Diane, the friend of Whitney’s who had taken me to the game held her head in her hands. Nebraska then made a terrible error to gift Texas Tech the possession, and indeed the game.

I could tell the local fans were relieved but also shocked at how their team had come so close to defeat against supposedly much weaker opposition. This may be college football but I got the feeling that this is Lubbock’s big sports team, and thus everybody follows them even if they have never set foot on the Texas Tech campus.

The college football season is quite complicated, in fact I would need to study it for about four days then write a whole blog entry to try to explain it! Basically Texas Tech are part of the ‘Big 12’ conference, which is teams from the central part of America. So Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas etc. The key performance indicator is a team’s ranking. This is generated by both a computer formula and also human ratings. Rankings are updated weekly and Texas Tech are rated about 8th in the country, which is very impressive.
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